Celeste: Hi Michelle! First of all, thanks so much for chatting to me. Can you just tell everyone a little about yourself to kick off?
Michelle: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me. I am a freelance writer and have been in the publishing industry for over a decade now. I have surrounded myself with authors and books and writing my whole life. I have recently started to join my 3 passions which are writing, books and depression. The last bit sounds weird, but you will be amazed at how many authors and creative people battle with depression on a daily basis. So, as you will see in the image below, I have found ways to join my skills and interests into a really fantastic career.
Writing = This is what I do, every day and almost all day
Books = You will find that I mention books a lot on my website and how they have influenced my work. I also sell second-hand books (with lots of quirky, bookish extras) at markets on the weekends.
Depression = This is the personal aspect of my work and I share my experiences on my blog
Writing + Books = Developing authors and helping them get published (such as through the course we will talk about shortly)
Writing + Depression = I offer writing therapy as a form of counselling which is basically using writing to tap into your feelings and work through them. This is also covered in regular workshops.
Books + Depression = Bibliotherapy. Using books to help you heal – even fiction!
Celeste: You’ll be running a writing workshop in November, which I’ll be joining (so excited!). Can you tell us a little about the workshop?
Michelle: I am so happy you are going to be there, Celeste! Basically my idea is to immerse writers in the “writer’s life” – as if you were in a resident writer’s program. You will learn a whole lot of writing tips from the pros, and will have plenty of opportunity to stretch your own writing muscles. Every day you need to write at least 500 words and you are able to share what you have written with the group so that you can get valuable feedback and support.
Celeste: What are the kind of things that people can expect on a day to day basis from the workshop?
Michelle: Each day you will receive an email with an activity for the day. This could be a video to watch, an audio recording to listen to, an image to use in your writing. There will be prompts to help you dig deeper into your stories, and then some techniques to try out with your writing. There will also be some chatting around the books we are studying and an opportunity to share what you have written with the group.
Celeste: Everyone has a different type of novel, memoir, or book inside them, from children’s tales of grandparents visiting, to post-apocalyptic worlds where females wear inappropriate sexual shoes (you know the story I’m talking about!). Can all writers join your writing program?
Michelle: Yes, absolutely! This isn’t about the type of book, poetry, short story or style of writing you have. It’s about growing as a writer and finding the support you need to actually sit down and write every day. I will be sharing lots of videos, audios and other expert advice so that you can grow as a writer, but most importantly it helps you with the discipline to get your story on the page.
Celeste: Tell me about the two books that you’ll be doing a book club on – how were they chosen and why for your course?
Michelle: The I AM A WRITER program will run for a month at a time, so there will be many more in the future. In each month I select two books for the book club aspect of the course. One is a book that specifically teaches about writing, the other a novel or memoir. We read both books with the intention of finding new ways of improving our own writing and learning from other authors and their writing styles. This month I have chosen Tribe by Rahla Xenopoulos because of the incredible way she developed her characters, and then Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which is a book every writer should study. It helps you hone your voice and really dig deep into your writing. These two books fitted perfectly with the methods I will be using to strengthen the creative muscles of the writers in my group!
Celeste: There is also a social media aspect to your course – where can people find you?
Michelle: Yes, there is a private group just for course members where we can share our writing and encourage one another. My official page is www.facebook.com/poetmich.a
Celeste: Once again – thanks so much for taking the time out to answer questions! If someone wants to find out more about your November Writing where can they go and are registrations still open?
Michelle: Thank you for the opportunity! Yes, late registrations are still open until 24 October and you can find out more here: www.micha.co.za/WIRprogram